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Atlantis crew to begin dress rehearsal for final flight to Hubble

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WASHINGTON, DC (BNS): The seven-member crew for the final shuttle flight to NASA’S Hubble Space Telescope will begin their three-day pre-launch exercises at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday.

According to NASA, the STS-125 astronauts will suit up in their orange launch-and-entry suits, ride to the launch pad aboard the Astrovan, and climb into space shuttle Atlantis for a countdown dress rehearsal.

Following the dress rehearsal, the astronauts will return to their home base at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to continue training for their mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.

Space shuttle Atlantis’ upcoming 11-day mission is the final shuttle flight to the Hubble Space Telescope. Five space walks are planned to install new instruments and thermal blankets, repair two existing instruments, refurbish subsystems and replace gyroscopes and batteries.

“The result will be six working, complementary science instruments with capabilities beyond what is now available, and an extended operational lifespan through at least 2013. The seven-member crew will enhance the observatory and ensure cutting-edge science. It puts in place advanced technology that improves the discovery power of Hubble by 10 to 70 times,” NASA said.

After a media meet on Tuesday, the astronauts trained for an emergency egress at the Launch Pad 39A. During their first day of activities, the crew members practiced driving the M-113 armored personnel carrier as part of their emergency training procedures. Commander Scott Altman and Pilot Gregory Johnson flew simulated landings in the Shuttle Training Aircraft.

It may be recalled that while the astronauts’ activities are centered at Launch Pad 39A, Space Shuttle Endeavour is stationed at Launch Pad 39B for any rescue mission if warranted. After Shuttle Endeavour is cleared from its duty as a rescue vehicle, workers will move it to pad 39A in preparation for lift off on mission STS-126 to the International Space Station in November.

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